How to Avoid Overspending Over Winter Break

Winter break is one of the easiest times for college students to accidentally overspend. This article outlines some of the common cash sinks of the holiday season and how to avoid them.

financial

Holidays!

Winter break is one of the major events looked forward to in a college student's year. No papers, no studying, and the holidays are right around the corner. Holidays are the season of giving, but they can also be the season of spending. It becomes so easy for a student to spend more than he or she should, but there are a few ways you can avoid the pitfalls of easy spending by knowing what you should watch out for.

Sales

The Danger:

It may sound like a good way to save money, but around this time it seems like every store in the mall has a sale sign out front. You're going to have to go out shopping for gifts anyway, and you're bound to see something that you want for yourself. With those signs constantly in your face, it may be difficult to keep yourself from picking up an early Christmas gift for you. You may even end up buying things that you really don't need just because they cost less now than they will in a week

The Solution:

When you go out to do holiday shopping, you can give yourself a set spending limit and only buy things for other people. Instead of buying new trinkets that you might want, just add them to a list so that a family member or friend can get them for you as gifts. And beware of shopping online. It may not register to you at first how much you are spending until it shows up on your credit card bill. Real money changing hands is a good reminder that you're actually spending when you buy something.

Trips

The Danger:

It seems almost expected nowadays that a student should go on a trip whenever a break from school presents itself. However, trips are expensive just by their very nature. Plane tickets, hotel fees, food and still other expenses you didn't prepare for are bound to pop up. Even a road trip is going to cost gas money.

The Solution:

Don't go on a trip. That's the easiest way of avoiding all those expenses, but it does eliminate that famed trip all students are supposed to go on. If you really do feel the need to go out traveling over winter break and you don't live in a very snowy area, a camping trip over a weekend with a few friends is an inexpensive, fun and unique vacation.

If you need to travel to be with family, see if they will cover part of your travel expenses as part of your holiday gift. And when you're booking air fare, pay attention to what items cost extra fees. If there is a charge for baggage, pack lightly with a small carry-on. If meals cost extra, pack some snacks.

Boredom

The Danger:

Without friends right in the next dorm room, sometimes you might find yourself just sitting at home with nothing much to do. It can be tempting to go out to the mall or call up a friend to get a meal out. Maybe a concert is in town tonight, or that new club is opening. Boredom can drive a student to do things that cost too much and buy things they don't need.

The Solution:

One of the best ways to stave off boredom is basic exercise. Take a walk, go on a hike, lift weights or ride your bike. And if you want to see friends, try going over to their place or inviting them to yours. Play video games together, rent a movie or do something else low-cost. If you feel the need to listen to music or dance, then throw your own party; if you're 21, include B.Y.O.B. (bring your own beer) in the invitation to save money.

Added Tips

Spending limits are a major help in all things you do. Whenever you go out with the knowledge that you might be spending at all, only take the amount of money with you that you are willing to spend. You will be forcing yourself to budget and save money.

One of the best ways to save money is to make money. Consider getting a job as a gift-wrapper at a local mall or ask around to see if anyone needs help mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow or getting the house clean for when the relatives come over. If you can't get a job or just don't want to, you might consider hinting to your relatives that you would like a little extra green in your gifts this season. Make sure they know that you don't mean mistletoe.

Want to save money all year round? Check out some other fun ways that college students can save money.

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